Normally, this is where I write about one of my favorite places, things, etc. I’m becoming quite the Oprah of the travel industry. (Sorry, I can’t dole out freebies to the audience. But I definitely get you the best rates and perks.) This month is no different, except for the fact that my favorite thing isn’t a fancy hotel or exciting destination. It is a nonprofit called The Miracle Foundation that turns orphanages into real homes for Indian children. A heartfelt thank you to Mohan Narayanaswamy of Travel Scope India for introducing me to the Foundation and Caroline, the founder. I’m so enamored with their work and impact that CIRE Travel will be teaming with The Miracle Foundation throughout 2015. We’ll start with a warm introduction…
Bottom Line: The Miracle Foundation Turns Orphanages into Loving Homes Where Children Thrive.
The issue… According to UNICEF, 153 million children live in institutional orphanages around the world. Most live in deplorable conditions, where their basic needs are not met. The children are often hungry, scared, confused and lonely.
These orphanages can be overcrowded and dilapidated, overrun with corruption, neglect and abuse. Even when managed by good people with the best intentions, orphanages usually lack the funds and resources to properly provide for children.
Here’s where The Miracle Foundation comes in… The Foundation helps turn orphanages into loving homes where orphan children can thrive and transform the story of their lives and future. They help people help themselves. The method they use is proven, transparent and repeatable.
Inspired by the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we created The Miracle Foundation Rights of the Child, focusing specifically on the rights of orphaned children.
These rights are at the heart of everything we do. Every single child on earth is born with rights, and our job is to ensure that the children we serve have the opportunity to realize them.
With that in mind, we used The Miracle Foundation Rights of the Child as the foundation for the guidelines and standards of care we are providing to orphaned children through The Miracle Foundation’s method.
The Miracle Foundation partners with small, struggling orphanages with a lot of heart, but not enough resources to feed, clothe, nourish and educate children. They incrementally provide children’s homes with funding, training, and support to improve the standard of care the children are receiving. Their ultimate goal is to ensure that every orphan child is able to realize their rights, thrive and to grow up to meet their full potential.
Meet Caroline Boudreaux… Caroline started The Foundation in 2000. She was a successful account executive at an Austin TV station, making more money than she’d ever imagined and had a great condo, new car and an enviable social life. Seeking meaning, she visited India during a worldwide trip where she saw an orphan for the first time. Let’s let her continue the story.
“The first orphan I ever held, Sheebani. She came and put her head on my knee. When I picked her up, she literally pushed her body into mine, in an attempt to get the affection she lacked. I sang her a lullaby and rocked her to sleep. I went upstairs to put her into her crib, and was shocked to see that there wasn’t one. Instead, the room was filled with hard, wooden-slatted beds. No mattresses, just wooden beds that reminded me of a concentration camp.
I gently laid Sheebani down, but when I heard that baby’s bones hit the board, I broke. I couldn’t believe that any child had to live like this. Here I was, traveling around the world without a care, and these children were going to bed hungry and lonely every night, on hard wooden beds. I was angry, hurt, and embarrassed.
The day was auspicious — it was Mother’s Day in the U.S. At that moment, I decided I had to do something about these children. I simply could not go on with my life as if they didn’t exist. I prayed that others would help me,” Caroline explains.
Miraculously, people of all ages, from all walks of life, and from all socio-economic backgrounds have joined them in their journey over the years. Hundreds have traveled to India on volunteer trips to meet the children, and many more have become sponsors and are financially committed to our work. The Foundation is appropriately named.
The impact… The Foundation uses the Rights of the Child as a guide when investing in the following:
- Clean water – The Foundation pays for the purchase and installation of a water purification system that improves water quality and children’s health by removing bacteria and other contaminants, and reducing the potential for the children to suffer from waterborne diseases, such as infectious diarrhea.
- Nutritious food – The Foundation provides balanced diets with essential nutrients, snacks, a cup of milk daily, a cook, nutrition committee, dishes and utensils.
- Health care – The Foundation provides two annual routine check ups, medical testing, vaccinations, mosquito screens, eye exams and eyeglasses, dental check ups and treatments, medical records for tracking health and training housemothers in good health habits.
- Loving environment – The Foundation hires housemothers and social workers, provides seasonal clothing, bedding, toiletries, sports equipment and develops an oversight committee.
- Education strengthening – The Foundation hires teachers, buys desks, supplies and uniforms, starts a library and ensures children get computer, vocational, higher level and career planning training.
The accomplishments by the numbers…
- Significantly impacted more than 1,500 children
- Built capacity in 15 children’s homes
- Trained more than 100 caregivers and housemothers
- Vaccinated over 1,000 children, and fought life-threatening illnesses, such as typhoid, tuberculosis, anemia, measles
- Helped send 10 children to college
- Built bathrooms, wells, kitchens, prayer halls, libraries and computer labs and installed playscapes, water purification systems, and organic gardens
- Taken hundreds of orphaned children on field trips to parks, beaches, zoos, carnivals, cricket matches, and ice cream parties
- Provided education, tutoring, scholarships and mentorship and taken children from infancy all the way to being young adults, ready to independently contribute to society
- Trained more than 300 volunteers to visit the children’s homes
In just the last 12 months, they have funded, and continue to fund many programs, including:
- Continuing to bring on new orphanages across India – the 9th orphanage, Dreamland, joined in Feb 2014
- Serving over 300,000 healthy, delicious, nutritious meals
- Installing 7 water purification systems
- Providing toiletry kits to 368 children
In the next 12 months, CIRE Travel will be sharing The Foundation’s challenges and victories as their latest admirer and cheerleader. Stay tuned…
For more information in the meantime, visit www.miraclefoundation.org.